I’ll admit, the first time I considered going to hot yoga I was a bit terrified. I wasn’t (and still wouldn’t consider myself) a Yogi, so I couldn’t even picture doing a yoga class in a hot room. How hot was it anyway? Isn’t it miserable working out in the heat? It wasn’t “love at first class”, but it was definitely something that grew within the first 30 days of an unlimited offer.
I recommend starting in a basic class and then explore other variations – just because you weren’t a fan of the first class does not mean hot yoga is not for you. Look for introductory offers to get a real feel for the studio and try out multiple instructors. If you are looking for a recommendation, Modo Yoga is my studio of choice and has locations in the US, Canada, and other select cities (Paris FR and Sydney AUS) and growing. Here are some other tips when trying out hot yoga.
There are different types of hot yoga
I’m admittedly not a yogi, but that being said, I have tried all different variations of hot yoga: Bikram, vinyasa, yin(/yang), power yoga with weights, hip-hop “flow on your own” vinyasa, Hot HIIT, etc. Without a doubt, you need to find the right studio and the right pace for you, which might take a few tries. Bikram was too militaristic (and I couldn’t get behind his story), Hot HIIT was too much quick movement for a hot room, and I learned I was not a fan of flow on your own or adding weights. For me, discovering a hot vinyasa studio (with a mix of some yin) in a studio with motivating but not overly spiritual instructors was perfect.
Endorphins, Focus, and Accomplishment
Being in a hot room can sometimes give you a natural rush, especially during savasana. Some people call this the “hot yoga high”. This occurs when you work out (and feel it – will be more intense than a normal yoga class) with the help of the heat, and then gradually move into a relaxed state. The focus you feel in your movement is only amplified by the heat. There are also more feelings of accomplishment (for me at least) than if I were to have done a regular yoga class because I am always putting in my maximum effort in a hot environment.
Best way to start or end your day
There is something about being in a heated room early in the morning or late at night that can complete your day. In the morning it will center you – just try to leave a few extra minutes at the end of savasana before you start your day to ease into it. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to enter a space where you can leave behind work, the kids, errands, etc. and forget any stress you may feel. The heat actually helps you be more present and focused on the moment.
Heat and Flexibility
The heat can make some yoga poses easier as it warms your muscles. Similar to a regular yoga class though, never push yourself into anything that feels uncomfortable. You’d be surprised by the end of the class that you might be able to stretch a little further, and after a few months of practice, you will notice a substantial difference in your core strength.
If you are ever feeling as if the heat is too much, or you feel light-headed or dehydrated, take it easy. Lie down, take sips of water, or go into a child’s pose. Most classes should keep it at a reasonable temperature but if something ever feels off it is not worth the risk of pushing yourself.
What to Buy
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Hot yoga doesn’t require much equipment, and most if not all you can rent at the studio. Paying $1-2 each for a yoga mat, towel, bottle, etc. adds up each time you go, so I would consider investing in a few items.
If you are looking for a relatively affordable yoga mat, this one from Gaiam is great – I still have mine in relatively good condition even though I purchased it ages ago. When you’re ready to upgrade, Manduka is one of the most reputable yoga brands. When I bought my Manduka mat a few years ago I bought a carrier (on sale) with it and it has made carrying my mat in the city so much easier and more sanitary.
The next important thing after your mat is a yoga towel. You might not be used to this if you do regular yoga, but for hot yoga it’s usually necessary. Most mat types get slippery and can’t absorb sweat well, so the towel collects sweat and give you better traction. It’s not necessary to buy a hand towel to wipe your face (you can use a dish towel) but if you want to use a new one, or have other uses for it like if your gym doesn’t prove you with towels, these microfiber towels from YogaRat are perfect. I use them at the gym and yoga and haven’t had any issues with smell, loss of color, or texture even after many washes.
You also need to make sure to stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you, and if it’s within your means, I highly recommend this insulated water bottle from Under Armour. It will keep your water cold no matter the temperature.